Ball St visits Kent St tonight for the first of 2 meetings between these MAC rivals over the next 3 weeks. The Golden Flashes were the MAC representative in the NCAA Tournament last year but have struggled to this year to the tune of 9-10 and a 3-3 record in conference play. Ball St made a splash this year with their massive upset over Notre Dame as 18 point underdogs they too own just a 3-3 record in conference play. Nonetheless, we are more impressed with the Cardinals this year despite their 4 returning starters underperforming from long range. An important factor to consider is that 2005 is the last time the Cardinals won against the Golden Flashes in this series which is quite a long time for conference rivals. However, this is the first time in a long time that Ball St will have the better team and we believe this is one they have specifically prepared for. It is in that regard we see their last game, a disastrous 71-53 loss to Miami (OH), as a positive as they were likely focused on tonight's game. We feel the hosts have gotten a bit lucky in close wins against Ohio and Western Michigan and believe they could easily be at the bottom of the MAC at 1-5! In any case, we have a suspicion the Cardinals find their stroke tonight against a poor defensive team!
After a poor start to the season, Davidson has picked it up in conference play with 5 consecutive wins after losing to Richmond in their A-10 opener. The Wildcats are coming off an impressive 83-73 win over St. Bonaventure on Friday. Dayton has been steady considering they have a new coach this year and complete turnover on their roster but are coming off 2 rough losses to St. Joseph's and Rhode Island. Despite this, we feel this Flyers team is starting to get it together and has faced some tough competition of late. On the other side, we're still a bit skeptical of the Wildcats as they haven't faced the toughest of opponents in conference play although we do have to credit them for their 10 point win against the Bonnies. Nevertheless, the Wildcats are a perfect 6-0 at home but a pedestrian 3-5 on the road and we feel this is a good spot to sell high on this team and buy low on the hosts. The only injury concern is Jordan Pierce for the Flyers as he has sat out the previous 2 games due to disciplinary issues but the big man's presence will be a bonus if anything!
It hasn't been a rosy start to the Big 12 season for TCU as they sit as just 2-6 after another close loss over the weekend, this time to Kansas St. On the other side, West Virginia took out their frustrations of back to back losses to Texas Tech and Kansas with an 86-51 drubbing of a short-handed Texas on Saturday. Nonetheless, the Mountaineers are still one of the best teams in the country and at 5-2 in conference play, should have more than a fair chance of winning the Big 12 despite being 1 game behind Kansas. The Mountaineers bring their aggressive pressing defense and are relentless on the perimeter and on the boards. The Horned Frogs have one of the best offenses in the nation but we feel they are outmatched here and have had issues closing out games on numerous occasions.
When Irina Falconi is on the ball she can look quite good. However, the 27 year old American suffers from massive lapses of concentration, and her good tennis can turn to erratic without any reason. Falconi beats herself often, and she’s simply not a person you want to trust. Amanda Anisimova is just 16 years old. Nevertheless, she’s already beaten the likes of Kayla Day and Christie Ahn, plus she qualified here in good style. The former French junior finalist (2016) has the potential to be a good player going forwards, and on that note she’s someone we want to side with here.
Wild card Danielle Collins is basically stepping up from college tennis, but the signs are she’s ready. Afterall, she beat higher ranked players such has Danka Kovinic and Irina Khromacheva at qualifying for the recent Aussie open, and she’s got past the likes of Stefanie Voegle and Tatjana Maria in the past. To get straight to the point, Marie Bouzkova doesn’t look that good and she needed 3 sets to get past Christiana Ferrando in the last round. Match simply looks winnable.
ASTRUM finishes second too often, and he’s just modest at best. LITTLE WINGMILL battled on for a win last time out, but it was a horrible race and he’s reverting too hurdles here. FLOW WITH EVE is with the right stable, but so is his stable companion BISOUBISOU. We believe Olly Murphy knows what he is doing taking 6 pounds off the 6 year old, so even odds of 2/1 are more than fair!
Please note this is a free betting tip and not to be confused with our Elite service, if you want to subscribe to that paid service visit Elie Tips. MONDO CANE comes from a stable that haven’t had a winner for 213 days, he’s an unlikely type to change that. ACHILL ROAD BOY is making a long journey south and that could pay off. Afterall, this is a really bad race, and dropping back in trip on conditions that should suit will make life easier. WOOD PIGEON remains frustrating, while WISH IN A WELL is moderate at best. TOWER OF ALLEN might need to drop a few pounds!
As we expected the Hokies had a difficult time against Florida St on Saturday as they were dominated on the boards and lost by a score of 91-82 despite shooting 53.3% from the field. Tonight they face another athletic team with plenty of size and length and who also rebound the ball extremely well. This will again be an issue for the Hokies and we expect much the same result unless they can shoot immaculately from the floor. Our only concern is that the Tar Heels aren't the best coached team and often unprepared, thus just 1 win ATS in their last 7, but we feel the match up is too much in favor of the visitors here!
In the NFC Championship Game we have the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Minnesota Vikings. As you may know by now, the Eagles have been starting their backup QB Nick Foles since Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury in Week 15 against the Rams. The Eagles were still able to win last week against the Falcons on the strength of their defense and some favorable weather conditions but we don't see that to be the case this time around. The Vikings looked dead and buried last week but a last second touchdown gave them a miracle finish and a chance to host the Super Bowl were they to win tonight. Both teams bring fantastic defenses to the table but the Eagles do have issues in the secondary which we believe will be exploited with the Vikings terrific complement of weapons in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. The Eagles have a very dangerous defensive line but Vikings QB Case Keenum showed the ability to navigate the pressure against the Saints and we believe the Vikings will stick with short and intermediate routes where the Eagles are most vulnerable. Only injury concerns are CB Mackensie Alexander, WR Adam Thielen and SS Andrew Sendejo but all reports indicate that Thielen and Sendejo are expected to start with Alexander still questionable. With good weather conditions in the forecast, Foles will be expected to make plays with his arm and as far as we are concerned, he will have to show us he can. Foles was able to get by last week as the bad weather neutralized the advantage the Falcons had in that department and we have yet to see Foles show in any game that he can be an adequate replacement for Wentz. As said before, both sides defend the run extremely well and with the clear advantage for the Vikings in the passing game, we have to go with the visitors!
In the AFC Championship Game we have the defending Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots hosting the up and coming Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags were impressive last week as they won with relative ease against a wholly unprepared and undisciplined Steelers team here the final score or 45-42 wasn't indicative of the play on the field. We don't put too much stock in the Jags defense giving up 42 points as the Steelers were playing catch up from the opening minutes of the game. A few concerning items however, were Leonard Fournette tweaking his ankle and Blake Bortles, again not looking all too effective albeit making some nice throws when needed. Fournette is expected to play but we have a suspicion that he is not fully healthy and his effectiveness may be slightly limited. There was a particularly interesting development on the Patriots side as it was reported that QB Tom Brady had injured his hand during practice and its severity is still very much in question. Officially listed as questionable to start, we have to believe that any question about his availability is nonsense and Brady will play. His effectiveness, though, may be in question somewhat as the Patriots are always apt to play games and create confusion. For the record, we don't believe the injury to be too severe if even serious at all and a few reports did indicate that he threw the ball with little signs of bother in practice. When we get down to the game itself, the Jags are a formidable team but we're of the opinion that they just aren't ready for this kind of win just yet. The Patriots are the best coached team in the league and we won't see any kind of unpreparedness as with the Steelers. We still have to remember that Blake Bortles is simply not a good quarterback and some of the numbers that he's put up this year have been the result of playing for a team with a phenomenal running game and even better defense. The Patriots defense has struggled at times this year but improved down the stretch and we're fully confident they will have the proper game plan against a more or less one-dimensional Jacksonville offense. The Jaguars defense has been stellar this year but the Patriots have too many weapons and are much less error prone with Brady than Bortles who we envision will make his share of bad decisions when the Patriots force the issue. As of the time of this writing, there is just one bookmaker with sufficient liquidity that's offering this game at Patriots -7. For the record, we want to point out that the margins are extremely thin here and we would not recommend at -7.5 (even at 2.00 such as at Pinnacle), which is the consensus line at this time. However, it is possible with the mystery surrounding Brady's hand that we see the market move down to -7 or even to -6.5 closer to game time though we have to believe any potential -6.5 would not last very long. In any case, if you can't get on with the BetCRIS family of shops, we recommend waiting or passing.
Since they only have 6 points on the board, the chances of Köln escaping the relegation zone are probably remote. With that said, at least they won their last match against Wolfsburg and their are plenty of other teams that will continue to struggle. Whatever the outcome, only a win today will help their situation. On a positive note the hosts are at least seeing players return from injury. With regards to todays team news, the likes of Risse, Horn and Bisseck will need to pass the doctor. Bittencourt, Cordoba, Maroh and Queiros are confirmed absentees, but they only played 26 games between them this season. Players returning include strikers Yuyu Osaka and Simon Zoller, plus defender Jonas Hector is now available. Köln warmed up with a friendly win against Hertha Berlin (1-0), so they should be fully revved up here. Borussia Monchengladbach failed to qualify for European football, and they were recently knocked out of the German cup. That means Dieter Hecking’s side have just the league to concentrate on, and on that note they could go second or third with a win today. However, the visitors have only won eight of their seventeen games to date, and they are 3-2-3 on the road. Furthermore, they lost back to back away games and have a negative goal balance of 14-17. This is a local derby with just 44KM separating the two clubs. The visitors are 8-1-2 against Köln over their last 11 meetings, and 4-1-2 since the hosts were promoted back to the Bundesliga. During the same period matches at this stadium played out 1-1-1. Gladbach were a little fortunate to win the reverse fixture (1-0), and they will be up against a very motivated team here. With home advantage and their strongest team for a while we can imagine the hosts making this interesting!
Virginia enters this game as the #2 team in the country and is a perfect 6-0 in conference play with their only loss to non-conference opponent West Virginia, another top 5 team in the country. The Cavaliers have another top defense this year and Tony Bennett's pack line system has been tough to crack. Wake Forest has struggled mightily in conference play with just 1 win against an ACC opponent but there are some things in play that we feel give the Demon Deacons a chance to make this game competitive. Wake Forest size in the middle with their 2 7 footers already give them a good rebounding edge but should give them some crucial 2nd chance opportunities on the offensive glass and this is one of the areas that the Cavaliers struggle a bit with their zone-like defense. The Demon Deacons also spread the floor and move the ball well with good shooters in the backcourt although they will of course be tested against an excellent perimeter defense. The Demon Deacons are limited on defense but the Cavaliers prefer to play very slowly and we feel this is a large number given the circumstances. Wake has clearly struggled but against a team with a somewhat similar profile in Syracuse (though of course not nearly as polished as Virginia), the Demon Deacons were able to pick up their only conference win earlier this year, downing the Orange at home 73-67. While a win might not be too realistic, we believe the Demon Deacons have some favorable matchups to keep this within single digits. All the better that this will be a nationally televised standalone game in what should be a sold out arena!